How to shop smart at Albertson’s

Albertson’s is one of the more expensive grocery stores in our area, but I still zip through every week or two.  This morning’s trip was a perfect day to illustrate how even an expensive store can be worth checking out.

Often there’s on-sale produce. Today it was 58 cents/lb oranges — too bad I’d already paid 89 cents/lb elsewhere. I did grab a couple bags of salad greens for 88 cents each.

I always check out the bananas.  Our Albertson’s bundles ripe bananas into paper totes and charges a buck for the whole tote.  This morning I got 5 lbs for a buck.  Not bad, eh? With all the eaters at our house, half of the bananas are already gone.  If any survive past tomorrow, we’ll make them into banana bread.  Sometimes the bananas are very ripe and need to be eaten within a day or so.  Other times, like today, they’re green enough to be fine on the counter for several days.

Another Albertson’s practice is to mark down anything left of that day’s ground beef late in the evening.  The evening mark-down is usually to $1.99/lb.  If any of that meat still remains the next morning, it’s marked down to $1.29/pound.  This morning I bought 11 pounds of 85% lean ground beef for $1.29/pound– definitely my best find of the shopping trip.  These days meat is so high that I’m usually jubilant over anything less than $2 a pound.

I also bought a ham that began at $1.49/lb and had a $3 mark-down coupon on it, bringing the per-pound price down to $1.20. While I was there, I cruised down the lunch-meat/cheese aisle hunting green marked-down tags.  I often find bacon and lunch meat for $1.99/pound that way.  No such luck this trip,  but the screaming-good meat prices were enough for me.  The whole trip toured through just three aisles of the store, cost $27, and took 15 minutes.  Well worth my time.

If Albertson’s was far from my house, I don’t suppose I’d stop there as often as I do.  My beloved Winco beats it hollow on the vast majority of food prices.  But since I drive past Albertson’s on almost every errand I take, I find it worthwhile to run in and out several times a month.

I went home and made 42 hamburger patties from that ground beef.  Have I told you how I make burgers?  To my 11 pounds of beef, I added 2 cups of oats, a cup of ketchup, 3 eggs, a tablespoon of garlic salt, and a tablespoon of onion powder.  I find that flavors the meat nicely– my kids like these burgers better than the ones you buy from the store.  AND it stretches the meat so that we can get another serving or two from each batch of ground beef.  I form the meat into patties and freeze it on cookie sheets, with plastic wrap between the layers of burgers.

Do you have a store in your area like Albertson’s, one that has a few great prices mixed in with higher ones?  If so, share your hints in comments below — it’d be awesome if folks in every part of the country could get some new ideas.

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{ 19 Comments }

  1. Mary,
    Don’t know if you saw that Albertsons was sold yesterday to an investment group. Here is one article about the sale.
    http://my.chicagotribune.com/#story/chi-supervalu-to-sell-jewelosco-othe5-chains-to-cerberusled-group-20130110/

  2. In the Southeast U.S. we have a store called “Harris Teeter” that sounds a lot like Albertson’s when it comes to prices. One time I was there for some sale-items, and was going to just grab some milk while I was there, but it was at least a dollar more than what I could get at another grocery store on the way home.

    Anyway, Harris Teeter has couponing specials that they run every month or so (doubling $2 or less coupons, or tripling $1 or less), and we get a lot of cheap items that way. Also, the other week when we were there, my husband found breakfast sausage links for under a dollar on a manager’s special. We only got one, but now I make sure to look at the meat section for manager special packages on my shopping trips.

  3. I honestly didn’t even know Albertson’s was still in business. All of our stores closed down years ago, and everyone I know has said theirs closed as well. I just checked their website and yeah, none for hundreds of miles. They seem to be doing well out your direction, but definitely not here. You did get some great prices. I do love Publix, but they don’t seem to do sales quite like that.

    • I love Publix, too because of the quality and good sales. But their meat is never cheap! I’ve never even seen a markdown sticker, but maybe I don’t shop at the right time of day.

  4. Wow, I had no idea. I have only been in Albertson’s 3 times in the 1 1/2 years I have lived in Idaho. But it & Fred Meyer are the closest stores to me. I hike to Winco, it is the best for my budget. Maybe I will try a stop at Albertson’s but extra errands is hard with littles.

  5. Yes! Here in Connecticut we have Big Y. They have fabulous sales-this week a pound of pasta in lots of fun shapes for $.77 but their prices on everything else are inflated. I do the majority of our shopping at Aldi and pick the goodies from BIg Y. They also have buy 1 get 2 free sales every so often.

  6. I have found the second week of Jan to be a good time to find some bargains. Our Tom Thumb (Safeway’s Texas stores) does not have the best prices at all but I found turkeys on clearance for 29 cents a lb this week. Good prices on hams too. They are just trying to clear them out. Unfortunately they do not seem to sell marked down produce – I think they just pull it from the shelves. I have had good luck shopping clearance aisles of Taget around this time too for marked down toys, lunchboxes etc.

    • If they are related to Safeway, the reason they don’t do produce (and probably bakery) markdowns is because they donate it to local food banks. I miss the markdowns, but appreciate the extra effort that they give to help.

  7. Somewhere back in Nov, you had a post that referenced your pumpkin cranberry bread that I can’t find it now. I asked if I could use homemade cranberry sauce instead of a canned product, and you said you thought so but to let you know. Life got in the way, and I didn’t end up making it until today. The result? Absolutely fabulous! It’s a little more pink than your photo, but it is still visually appealing. My sauce had a lot of orange and cinnamon in it already, so blended in perfectly when added to the spices of the bread. I didn’t even put a glaze on it (mainly because it turned out I did not actually have the concentrate), I just sliced and ate. Totally a winner.

  8. Check with dept managers of when they mark down and what they mark down. My daughter is meat manager at Walmart, her girlfriend is meat manager at Kroger’s, their”rules” of marking down and manager’s specials are on different times and days. The owner of our locally owned store which is usually the highest for most things told me that bakery and meat get discounted late Sunday and early Monday morning.

    Dent can bin, if your store doesn’t have one as if they keep them in the back.

    Don’t assume that the meat sales of buy 4 or 5 for $19.99 are actually a good sale.You might be getting a deal on the roast but paying 3 times as much on the hot dogs. The same with buy one and get one free.

    If your store has a rewards card…apply and use it, some allow coupons to be loaded on to the card also

  9. Speaking of hamburgers… Our favorite burgers are made with 2 lbs. ground beef to 1 serving (1/4 c.? 1/3 c.? I can’t remember at the moment!) of your dry onion soup mix recipe. We mix it in thoroughly, then make the patties, grill ’em, and freeze the extras (unless we’ve got enough mouths to feed that day…which we usually do!). 🙂

  10. Finally had a chance to read. My mother says I live in the frozen boonies and I must because I have never seen or heard of any of these stores.
    We shop our local grocery buying only what we need for the week with most meals stirfy with rice or soup and sandwich with pancakes and eggs or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. My daughter and I eat very simply but are never hungry and able to keep our food shopping budget right around $35 a week.
    We both like to travel and would rather save our money for that then spend on food we don’t really need to survive.

  11. We had Kroger in Houston and Kroger was AWESOME at marking stuff down, including meat and even organic milk. My beloved Kroger allowed me to feed my family well on a budget for years. Then we moved to Austin, which is dominated by the very expensive HEB, who never marks anything down. I don’t know what they do with their day old meat and milk and bread.

    I miss Kroger so, so, so much!

    • I bet! Here’s hoping HEB is donating their day-old stuff to food pantries, at least. I watched a video once about folks who totally live on dumpster-diving, and while that would not be my choice, it makes me sick to think of the food that’s wasted all over this country.
      Mary

  12. over here my wife and I shop at winco for some items and at walmart for others I have found that five pound chubs of ground beef are between 1.5 and 2 dollars cheaper than at winco and my kosher salt is a dollar cheaper a box we have been incorporating your price book strategy and it has helped us a great deal and having walmart on the way home from winco helps things out even more.